Mar 18, 2008

View of Enceladus, Saturn's moon

Think about planet Saturn and it's moon Enceladus! What does the surface of Saturn's ice-covered moon look like? To find out more information about Enceladus, on Wednesday, the robotic Cassini spacecraft was sent soaring past the cryovolcanic moon. Even Cassini went right through one of Enceladus' ice plumes. It closed to about 52 kilometers during its closest encounter to date.

The above unprocessed image was taken looking down from the north, from about 30,000 kilometers away. Visible are at least two types of terrain. The first type of terrain has more craters than occur near Enceladus' South Pole. The other type of terrain has few craters but many ridges and grooves that may have been created by surface-shifting tectonic activity.

Exogeologists are currently examining this and other images sent by Cassini to better understand the moon's patch-work surface, its unusual ice-geysers, and its potential to support life. Cassini is scheduled to fly by Enceladus at least nine more times, including an even closer pass of just 25 kilometers this coming October. NASA


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